Listeria monocytogenes is already a virulent species of foodborne bacteria most often found in raw milk, soft-ripened cheeses and ready-to-eat cold cuts. It is particularly tenacious and can thrive even under refrigeration.
Now researchers say some strains of Listeria monocytogenes appear to have acquired an enhanced ability to invade and infect the heart.
Less common than Salmonella or toxic E. coli, Listeria can be far more deadly. While the majority of people infected suffer gastroenteritis and recover, Listeria kills about 16 percent of those infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other estimates place the fatality rate as high as 30 percent.
The bacteria typically affect the central nervous system or the fetus during pregnancy, but the new research indicates some unique but not uncommon strains of the pathogen target the heart, and that these variants may have adapted to increase their ability to invade heart cells…
Diabetes affects 8.3% of all Americans and 11.3% of adults age 20 and older. Some 27% of people with diabetes – 7 million Americans – do not know they have the disease. In 2010, 1.9 million Americans were first diagnosed with diabetes.
Prediabetes affects 35% of adults age 20 and older, and half of Americans age 65 and older. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
CDC estimates that as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue…
Forbes Media took a radical step last year when it started to put advertisers and outside contributors on equal footing with its editorial staffers, in print and online. Now, it’s going one step further with a Web redesign that will give advertisers even greater presence on the site.
Under a three-month-old program called AdVoice, advertisers could pay to have their labeled blogs appear alongside those of editorial staffers. Now, their contributions can run anywhere on the site that a staff writer or contributor can appear, not just the blogs section…
(Nonprofit threatened with UK equivalent of SLAPP suit for voicing concerns over a CAFO. NB, under UK law,unlike in the US, something can be true and still be libellous.)
When a charity objected to plans for a pig factory for up to 25,000 animals, they expected a fight. But now the battle looks likely to intensify after the leading London lawyers Carter Ruck threatened libel proceedings.
The organic farmers’ group the Soil Association objected to an application from Midland Pig Producers (MPP) for an intensive pig farm in Foston, Derbyshire, last summer, raising concerns in general terms about disease, antibiotic resistance and animal welfare in large pig herds.
…the Guardian has learned that the Soil Association has received a threatening letter from Carter Ruck, acting for MPP, saying its objection is defamatory and should be withdrawn.
“It had a chilling effect,” said Lord Melchett, the Soil Association’s policy director. “Your first thought is, these are incredibly rich and powerful people; we have no assets, we will have to back down, not because we think we are wrong but because we don’t have the resources. It’s taken a lot of time to feel we can risk standing up to them.”
Marked “private and confidential, not for publication or broadcast”, the letter said that the Soil Association’s objections should not be further disseminated and that to do so “would risk incurring considerable liability”…
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is scaling back one of its largest efforts to develop treatments for troops and civilians infected in a germ warfare attack after a $1 billion, five-year program fell short of its primary goal.
Even the heavy infusion of research cash and a unified effort by university labs and biotech companies from Boston to California were insufficient to break through limitations of genetic science, according to government officials and specialists in biological terrorism.
Instead, the Pentagon’s next $1 billion for the Transformational Medical Technologies program will focus on better ways to identify mutant versions of Ebola, Marburg, and other deadly viruses. Those are among the genetically modified agents that officials fear could be used by terrorists or rogue states against urban or military targets…
The new strategy represents a return to the drawing board for an ambitious program conceived after the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes and subsequent mailing of anthrax to members of Congress and media organizations — events that helped US military planners realize that the nation lacked adequate defenses against bioterrorism.
Scientists initially set out to develop new medicines capable of attacking viruses that might be altered by terrorists to make them more deadly. But after more than 50 research projects by more than 100 contractors — including biotech firms, pharmaceutical companies, and universities, including several in the Boston area — only two experimental medicines have shown promise. And even those are far from being ready for limited clinical tests, according to project officials…
Since the introduction of the first vaccine, there has been opposition to vaccination. In the 19th century, despite clear evidence of benefit, routine inoculation with cowpox to protect people against smallpox was hindered by a burgeoning antivaccination movement. The result was ongoing smallpox outbreaks and needless deaths. In 1910, Sir William Osler publicly expressed his frustration with the irrationality of the antivaccinationists by offering to take 10 vaccinated and 10 unvaccinated people with him into the next severe smallpox epidemic, to care for the latter when they inevitably succumbed to the disease, and ultimately to arrange for the funerals of those among them who would die (see the Medical Notes section of the Dec. 22, 1910, issue of the Journal). A century later, smallpox has been eradicated through vaccination, but we are still contending with antivaccinationists.
Since the 18th century, fear and mistrust have arisen every time a new vaccine has been introduced. Antivaccine thinking receded in importance between the 1940s and the early 1980s because of three trends: a boom in vaccine science, discovery, and manufacture; public awareness of widespread outbreaks of infectious diseases (measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio, and others) and the desire to protect children from these highly prevalent ills; and a baby boom, accompanied by increasing levels of education and wealth. These events led to public acceptance of vaccines and their use, which resulted in significant decreases in disease outbreaks, illnesses, and deaths. This golden age was relatively short-lived, however. With fewer highly visible outbreaks of infectious disease threatening the public, more vaccines being developed and added to the vaccine schedule, and the media permitting widespread dissemination of poor science and anecdotal claims of harm from vaccines, antivaccine thinking began flourishing once again in the 1970s….
Today, the spectrum of antivaccinationists ranges from people who are simply ignorant about science (or “innumerate” — unable to understand and incorporate concepts of risk and probability into science-grounded decision making) to a radical fringe element who use deliberate mistruths, intimidation, falsified data, and threats of violence in efforts to prevent the use of vaccines and to silence critics. Antivaccinationists tend toward complete mistrust of government and manufacturers, conspiratorial thinking, denialism, low cognitive complexity in thinking patterns, reasoning flaws, and a habit of substituting emotional anecdotes for data.5 Their efforts have had disruptive and costly effects, including damage to individual and community well-being from outbreaks of previously controlled diseases, withdrawal of vaccine manufacturers from the market, compromising of national security (in the case of anthrax and smallpox vaccines), and lost productivity.2…
Naming a drug-resistant superbug after the Indian capital Delhi was an “error of judgement”, the editor of the Lancet medical journal has said.
Richard Horton said in Delhi that the name had unfairly stigmatised India. The Lancet journal published research last August about the bug’s discovery. UK researchers named the enzyme “New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1)”, as some of the victims were found to have recently travelled to India for medical treatment and cosmetic surgery.
However, Cardiff University’s Timothy Walsh, who led the research, told the BBC he had no intention of renaming it. He discovered the enzyme in 2009 in a Swedish patient who had been admitted to hospital in India. It was said to pose a global threat like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) or human swine flu.
Mr Horton told reporters in Delhi: “It was an error of judgement. We didn’t think of its implications, for which I sincerely apologise.” The name “unnecessarily stigmatised a single country and city” and should be changed by researchers, he added.
The Indian government’s health ministry had branded the Lancet report as exaggerated and unfair. Some politicians claimed the name was a plot to damage India’s booming health tourism industry.
Indian health experts said that the name suggested incorrectly that Delhi was the origin of the bug. After the Lancet article, cases were reported elsewhere in Europe, and in Canada, the US, Africa, Australia and East Asia.
Roughly three out of every 10 ICU patients wind up with some kind of infection during their hospital stay. Those infections make sick people sicker, keeping them in the hospital for an additional eight to nine days and adding an estimated $3.5 billion to the nation’s healthcare tab each year.
A $3.5-billion problem sure sounds daunting, but a new study suggests a straightforward solution: Make all ICU rooms private.
How much could this help? At Montreal General Hospital, the infection rate fell considerably after a new ICU opened with only single-occupancy rooms. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate at which ICU patients acquired Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) was 54% lower than in the ICU at nearby Royal Victoria Hospital, where eight rooms were private but other rooms shared as many as six beds. (The hospitals were ideal for comparison because both were part of the McGill University hospital system and shared the same director, physicians, nurse-to-patient ratio and infection control policies.)…
Pregnant women, the elderly and vulnerable patients are being turned away from GP surgeries amid claims that doctors do not have enough flu vaccines.
As NHS hospitals struggle to cope with a surge flu cases, many surgeries have failed to order sufficient doses to combat this year’s outbreak. The problems are so severe in some areas that non-urgent operations have been cancelled.
Pregnant women, the elderly and other vulnerable patients with chronic illnesses are being refused appointments or told to come back in a few weeks time. Some patients even say they have been told to pick up vaccines at supermarkets including Tesco or at their local pharmacy.
It came as some hospitals were on “black alert” yesterday as figures showed the number of children under five seriously ill with the disease has doubled in a week. Black alert is an NHS hospital’s most severe status level.
Doctors have warned that services are being exhausted by the demand for treatment and the pressure on hospitals is “not sustainable”. The problems are so severe in some areas that non-urgent operations have been cancelled…
After calling for bills to go through a regular committee process, the bill that would repeal the health care law will not go through a single committee.
Despite promising a more open amendment process for bills, amendments for the health care repeal will be all but shut down.
After calling for a strict committee attendance list to be posted online, Republicans backpedaled and ditched that from the rules.
They promised constitutional citations for every bill but have yet to add that language to early bills.
Republicans say there are subtle reasons for these moves and that they certainly will follow their own rules throughout the 112th Congress. But the hedging on some promises shows just how hard it will be to always match the sharp rhetoric of the campaign with the ugly and complex work of running the House…
As his tiny daughter’s skin turned blotchy and her body went limp during a lengthy wait at Methodist Hospital’s emergency room, Ryan Jeffers panicked.
“This wasn’t a simple flu,” he said. “My daughter needed help.”
Little did he know that the girl was near death from a common infection that had invaded her blood and was raging out of control, ultimately causing the amputation of both of her feet and one of her hands.
Malyia Jeffers, 2, is still fighting for her life at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and her Sacramento parents are left wondering how a simple Strep A bug turned into a medical horror story.
“What could I have done differently?” asked Jeffers, who along with the girl’s mother, Leah Yang, has been keeping vigil in Palo Alto for nearly a month…